When the person presenting the medals gave Shawn Johnson a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he said, “I’m sorry.”
“I felt like I had failed the world. I felt like since the world saw me as nothing else, that if I failed at being a gymnast, I had failed at being a human being,” Johnson said in a video uploaded by “I Am Second,” which according to its website is "a movement meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others."
Johnson was a member of the 2008 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team during the Beijing Olympics. According to media outlets, Johnson was expected to take home a handful of gold medals from the games. Instead, she came away with one gold medal but lost the all-around title to her teammate Nastia Liukin.
However, her disappointment motivated her to go on to win “Dancing with the Stars” and start preparations for the 2012 Olympics. But soon “the weight of perfection and the expectations to be, look and act like everyone wanted her to took a toll,” reads Johnson’s story on the “I Am Second” website.
One day while practicing her balance beam routine, she had an unforgettable experience that changed her outlook on the purpose of life.
“It’s one of those moments that’s really hard to explain and really hard for a lot of people to understand, but in that one moment I felt like God was telling me, ‘You’ve been so distraught over this decision, and have been putting yourself through all of this, and your family through all of this, and you’ve been afraid of disappointing a lot of people, and not been yourself. But it’s OK to follow your heart and put it behind you,” Johnson said of the experience.
She said she felt that in one instant, “the entire world” was lifted off her shoulders. She realized she had started to become someone she didn’t want to be just to earn another gold medal. In the “I Am Second” video, Johnson talks about her true purpose in life — to follow Jesus Christ.
“God is the answer to everything. Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross so that when I stood up there and I was given that golden medal, yes, it’s a monumental and amazing experience and wonderful thing, but it’s not the end-all be-all. Yes, I can work my whole life to be a CEO of a company, or to make a certain amount of money, or to win 12 more Olympic gold medals, but it’s not the purpose in life. He will always be my greatest reward and my proudest reward,” she said.
The Clean Cut is a daily feature highlighting family friendly videos.
Kelsey Schwab writes for the Faith and Family sections of DeseretNews.com.